1. Linguistics is the science of language.

  2. Linguists study the sounds, the words, and the grammar of a language. They also study language systems, comparing and contrasting the features of different languages. Linguists are also interested in the psychological and sociological factors underlying how we use language.

  3. Theoretical linguistics involves developing models or rules to help us think about or understand how we learn and use language. Applied linguistics uses the results of theoretical studies to teach people languages, to prepare dictionaries, and to develop treatments or therapies to help people with language disorders.

  4. The basic elements of language are the sounds, called phonetics, the order and relationship of the words, called syntax, and the meaning, called semantics.

  5. It is important to study the psychological and sociological aspects of language because language is the main way in which we communicate with each other. We express our thoughts and opinions, as well as our feelings, through language. Therefore, it is important to understand the psychological and sociological processes at work in language use.

  6. When we understand how we produce and process language, then we can develop better ways to teach language or to help people who have language disorders.

  7. Psycholinguistics involves the psychological factors in language acquisition and use. These factors include how we learn our first and second languages and how we produce and process language.

  8. When we are in a comfortable situation, for example with family or friends, we tend to use more informal language forms and structures. However, when we are in a more structured situation, for example at work or in school, we change to more formal and/or polite language forms and structures. Each situation has its own standards for language use.

  9. Language use is related to social status because if we do not use appropriate forms of language for the situation we are in, we will lose status in the group. People judge us by the way in which we use language and whether we know the appropriate language to use in any given situation.

  10. Linguistics is an interdisciplinary discipline because language use is so complex and involves issues from many different subject areas, for example sociology and psychology.

Posted to the Web on March 30, 2001